A very good friend of mine, Stella, surprised me with a gift of a brilliant yellow potted Ranunculus at work one day recently. She knows I very much enjoy flowers and had seen this plant at the local home improvement store and was spellbound by its gorgeous springtime-reminiscent blooms. She thought I might know all about the plant, but alas, I only knew its name! I had often seen the paperflower blooms in catalogs and gardening books but for some reason I did not think Ranunculus grew very well here in Zones 7/8.
I believe I’ve been wrong.
From what I’ve read, being on the cusp of Zones 7 & 8 can offer two choices when planting Ranunculus and the good news is, since it is early March, it isn’t too late to take part in one of the choices. If you live in Zone 8-11, you could have planted the bulbs/tubers last October/November for a display of flowers right about now. This is good advice for next year for those of you whose winters never reach below 10 degrees. For those of us that live further north and overlap a bit with the above zones – say Zones 8 and northward, you can plant Ranunculus bulbs this month and enjoy their vibrant colors come late May or June.
Ranunculus, sometimes commonly called Persian Buttercup, produce full, rose-shaped blooms in a variety of bright colors. They are indeed cool weather plants. As mentioned above, they grow from tiny bulbs or tubers and hence, they prefer dry soil. They do not take to the heat very well, and perhaps, knowing how hot our summers (and sometimes springs, falls and even winters) are here in North Texas, this is why I pretty much wrote them off early on. However, after having witnessed their beauty and resiliency (my stunning lemon-colored gift has resided in a pot on my patio all week and still looks great) I have indeed had a change of heart. I can now attest that Ranunculus are very worthy of planting along with other cool season ornamentals such as pansies, dianthus, and snapdragons. Of course, you may wish to simply plant a few bulbs/tubers in pots and enjoy them on your patio or front porch. In my opinion, their greenery is just about as pretty as their blooms, reminding me of full, healthy chrysanthemum leaves.
While it is possible to dig up the bulbs/tubers after the greenery dies down and store them in a cool/dry area until the next fall or spring, most folks treat Ranunculus as an annual. The tubers are indeed quite small and inconspicuous and usually when the earth becomes warm and wet with early summer rains, they are prone to having rotted anyway. Considering on my lunch hour today I purchased 15 tubers for $4.98, it certainly isn’t expensive to grow new plants from year to year.
Well, when I arrive home from work today I plan to locate a few high-ground, mostly-sunny spots in my backyard to plant my Ranunculus tubers. After researching the best way to sow these tubers, I learned it may be a good idea to soak them for about 30 minutes to plump them up before planting. (The claw-like tubers actually look like dried up mini-tarantulas if you ask me!) Once plumped, you should plant them right away at about 2 inches under the soil, with the claws pointed downward.
So . . . within a couple of months, I hope to enjoy a rainbow of Ranunculus in my backyard. I hope you find time to plant your rainbow this spring too!
Until next time,
P.S. Ranunculus are touted to be among the best of cut flowers as not only are they beautiful, they stay fresh for 7 days in a vase.
Originally published March 2012